3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

How big do you want to print? Last week in our 3D printing basics series we discussed the history of 3D printing. Today, we are going to explore the wide variety of printer build volumes and tolerances that allow you to create prints ranging from very tiny to quite massive. While all printers work by building a part layer by layer, the machines can vary significantly in terms of quality and functionality. When searching for a 3D printer for your home or office, you can really distinguish one printer from another based upon the printer build volumes and tolerances. Printer Build Volumes The build volume, quite simply, determines how big your machine allows you to print. For years, analysts believed that limited build volumes were the biggest obstacle standing in the way of widespread adoption of 3D printing technology. Today, we are starting to see the design of 3D printers re-imagined in ways that allow them to build full-scale structures, effectively eliminating this critique. Starting at the true desktop level, the printer build volumes for a 3D printer can be quite limited. Many of the entry level printers, especially those around or below the $1,000 mark, have rather small build volumes, mostly less than four inches by four inches by four inches. This means that you can only print something that would fit inside of a four inch cube. While this is enough space to play around with the technology and build little trinkets, if you want to make actual, usable parts, you will find a four-inch limitation to be rather cumbersome. Moving into the next level of printers,...
3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

3D Printing Basics: The History of 3D Printing

The History of 3D Printing Do you think of 3D printing as a brand new, cutting edge technology? Well, you are half right. While it is true that 3D printing is cutting edge and has only entered the mainstream in recent years, the history of 3D printing actually dates back more than three decades. In fact, the first recorded design for rapid prototyping (RP), the technology that 3D printing is built upon, was developed by a Japanese lawyer, Dr. Hideo Kodama, in 1980. Rapid prototyping is simply any technique that uses computer aided design (CAD) programs to quickly develop a 3D model. The term rapid prototyping is often used interchangeably with additive manufacturing. Unlike traditional prototyping techniques that could take many weeks to complete, rapid prototyping technologies allow businesses to receive their prototype within hours of creating the design. The Breakthrough and the Rise of 3D Systems The first big breakthrough in 3D printing took place in 1983 when Charles “Chuck” Hull invented the first stereolithography apparatus. Hull would go on to found 3D Systems, one of the highest grossing 3D printing companies in operation and a company that we are proud to be a re-seller for. Hull came up with the idea for his machine while he was working on lamps for UV-curable resins and realized that the process could be used to create bonds in the resin that would build objects layer by layer. Remarkably, the first inkjet printer had just been invented in 1976. There was only a period of eight years separating the invention of the first machine capable of printing in 2D and the...
Animals Saved by 3D Printing

Animals Saved by 3D Printing

With robotic hands, custom-printed splints, and medicine that can be printed to specific doses, the news is full of ways that 3D printing can help humans live healthier, more productive lives. But, if you look close enough, there are also some really amazing examples of how 3D printing has also been helping some adorable members of the animal kingdom.  Here are a few of our favorite stories about animals saved by 3D printing. 1. A pelican’s new beak. When a pelican began acting strangely at the Dalian Forest Zoo, staff members soon realized that the bird’s beak was damaged. Because a beak is vital to both food gathering and determining a pelican’s social status, a beak is crucial to a pelican’s survival. After two attempts at repairing the beak through other methods, zoo workers decided that they would try to use a 3D printer to make the necessary repairs. Because it appeared that there was already some new growth, doctors determined that it wasn’t necessary to print the entire beak. The final product is a 3D printed extension that screws into the pelican’s original beak, allowing the pelican to feed normally once more. 2. A turtle’s new home. A turtle’s shell protects them in a number of ways, including from bacteria and infection. In some cases, poor nutrition can lead to a bone disease which can cause the shell to wear away. When that happens, a turtle can be left painfully exposed. This is the fate that turtle Cleopatra was facing. Luckily, however, Cleopatra was taken in by Canyon Critters Rescue. Here, founder Nicola “Nico” Novelli determined that he...
MakerBot Dedicated to 5th Generation Platform

MakerBot Dedicated to 5th Generation Platform

MakerBot Update As a MakerBot reseller, we are very excited to let you know about their plans for the coming year. Rather than focusing on big changes like new releases in 2015, MakerBot is focused on fully providing a better user experience for the 5th Generation platform. Our favorite thing about MakerBot’s trajectory is that they reinforced the idea that the company is dedicated to continuous improvement of the current 5th Generation printers. This is great news for our customers, who often express concern that they will end up with a printer that is obsolete within a year or two. Instead of releasing the 6th Generation this year and the 7th Generation next year, MakerBot is adopting a model of steady positive change to make the 5th Generation the best machine that it can be. MakerBot has already been demonstrating this dedication to a better printer through continued upgrades to the firmware. From personal experience on the MakerBot Replicator that we have in the office, we have noticed a vast improvement in printing quality following the most recent firmware upgrade. MakerBot, as a subsidiary of Stratasys, it is the largest manufacturer of 3D printers in the world. This means that they have the resources to identify and fix problems while still innovating and working on what’s next. New Printing Materials Speaking of what’s next, MakerBot is rolling out some really cool ways that you can get even more use out of your 5th Generation printers. One of the first endeavors that they are undertaking is new materials. Citing their belief that the ability to print with more and more...

Autodesk Well Positioned in 3D Printing Market

Advancements in 3D Printing In order to take your 3D part from concept to tangible piece, the part must first be modeled in 3D software. Autodesk, the company behind software like AutoCAD, Maya, 3ds Max, Inventor, and Fusion 360, has been rapidly incorporating 3D modeling capabilities into their existing software. Between Autodesk’s well-established software programs and new software in development, Autodesk is charging head first into the 3D printing market. Over the last year, Autodesk has released a variety of app-based software that is specifically designed for 3D printing. These apps include 123D Catch, a program that allows users to take a series of photos of a model that are transformed into a 3D design, 123D Design, a basic 3D modeling program, and 123D Make, a program that allows users to create 3D models in slices from individual layers. With these apps combined with Autodesk’s Spark, an additional software platform, Autodesk has been described as the “Android of 3D printing.” Autodesk Talks About the Future Recently, IDG Connect was able to sit down with Aubrey Cattell, the Senior Director of Business Development and Operations. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits about the interview. Cattell reiterates that, although the printing industry is 25 years old, it hasn’t yet blown up. In fact, there have only been 250,000 3D printers sold over the last 25 years. Despite this, Cattell believes that we are on the cusp of huge growth, citing studies that predict that the industry will grow to $16 billion in 2018. Cattell compares the current state of 3D printing to a “Homebrew Computer Club.” Essentially, at this...